Sexuality is a pretty important topic in any teenagers life. With hormones raging and love interests abounding, it seems to be on every teen’s mind. It is important to realize, though, that sexuality is much more than just having sex or thinking about having sex. Sexuality refers to both sexual feelings towards others and one’s sexual orientation or preference. It’s important to be able to talk about all of it, and not allow sexuality to be an off-limits or taboo topic.
While there are many articles out there about teens and sex, some of them even written by me, I’d like to take a different angle with this one. We already know that most teens become sexually active and what all the risks are of doing so. I’d like to focus this article on what to do if you’re starting to realize that your teen doesn’t fit the “traditional” mold of heterosexual male or female desiring relationships with the opposite gender. This is the issue not getting enough attention, and that’s a problem.
A 2015 study found that 3% of teens identify as transgender; 2% identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual; and 3% are unsure of their sexual orientation. While the percentages seem small, this actually means that 8 out of every 100 teens are affected by this. So, if your teen attends a high school with 2000 kids, that means we are talking about 160 teens. That to me is a significant number of teens to be concerned about, especially since LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts and about 40% of homeless youth are LGBT.
LGBTQ teens face all sorts of obstacles. Feeling different, not fitting in, and bullying are just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, even LGBTQ teens are going through puberty, dealing with raging hormones, and becoming interested in sex. As if this isn’t enough for a typical teenager, these teens have many more obstacles to overcome. Sometimes, these teens don’t even have the answers to some basic questions that most teens simply take for granted. While many teens wonder ‘who am I?’ LGBTQ teens often wonder ‘what am I?’ They might wonder ‘what is happening to me,’ ’who will be attracted to me,’ or ‘will my family still love me if they knew?’. These are really big questions, and I want to help with some answers.
If you’re wondering what your teen might be, I beg you to recognize that they are first and foremost a human being, worthy of love and acceptance. Whether your teen is straight, gay, bisexual, transgender or anything else is secondary to them being a human being. This is your child! They need and deserve your love. No matter what you do, they will be whomever they will be. So it seems that loving them just the way they are makes the most sense. I wish that all families everywhere would accept their children just as they are, no matter what. But we all know this doesn’t always happen. Families can be very rigid and have very strong beliefs, especially if they are religious. Some religions and families are more accepting than others. There are still some families, religions, and others that believe being LGBTQ is a mental disorder (it is not).
It is really tough to be a LGBTQ teenager. They have to contend with fear of losing the love and support of their families and being teased and bullied by their peers. Even just struggling to really figure out who and what they are can be overwhelming. Despite your own beliefs on the topic, try your hardest to help your teen cope and stay healthy. Guide them towards appropriate resources and support. Most importantly, remind them that they are worthy of love.
For LGBT Youth Resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm.